The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Free education, but not free food

Butterfly, a flaky pain au chocolat above the Seine. Photo Courtesy of Amy Schulmam

A Lafayette student details his experience abroad in Paris, France

By Irvin Cedillo ‘16

Contributing Writer

I had to treat myself. Croissants, baguettes, fromage, pain au chocolat, éclairs, chocolat chaud, crêpes and falafels from Le Marais were the mouthwatering pastries that put my bank account down the drain within my first days in Paris. But eating them all was worth every penny.

My three months in France so far have been very similar to when I first moved to the United States from Honduras when I was eight. The food, the people, the customs, the beliefsand the classes all seemed out of this world. So was the language, despite nine years of experience with French. As I compared everything in France to that of the United States,I was stunned to realize how much of an American and less of a Honduran I had become. I had compared things to Honduras while living in the States, but I found myself doing the opposite here.

France’s higher education is free. Well, the students have to pay a fee of somewhere between 300 and 500 euros for the year. But $270 to $460 is nothing compared to what we know. French student’s jaws drop when they hear what American students can pay. It can be economically constraining as the school, I suppose, does not have the freedom to invest more freely in whichever department they want with a limited budget. The government needs to consider the many other institutes educating the country free of charge.

With this limited budget comes the issue regarding quality. The facilities used, such as a common ground (the quad), the classrooms, the cafeteria and others, will serve the bare minimum job. They are simply there to serve their purpose and there is no room for extra added color or style. Yes, you can argue that such extra things are not needed to educate someone, but those extra details do enrich the learning experience. The added details motivate the students to learn and they also help create a sense of community.

A student has few incentives to go to class, because the institution doesn’t require much payment and may lack resources. Students have little to lose by skipping one day of class, or maybe two or maybe three and so on.And a getting a good job post-graduation is probably not the first thing that comes to students’ mind whenthey have to struggle to get up at 5a.m. to commute across the city for their 8a.m. class.

This is not to say that dedicated students do not care for their future or that the professors does not care for them. On the contrary, the professors here are very strict when it comes to knowing the small details, despite some not even giving textbooks or syllabi. One professor gave a pop quiz on a recent homework, and no, I did not know all of the specific dates for each treaty that created the European Union (I hope I did for my mid-terms though).

Education is taught and perceived differently. The dedicated student here does not need all the extra colorsand style as mentioned earlier—he or she knows what is expected from them and do it.

I’ve always believed that higher education should be more easily accessible. I’ve found a new perspective across the world.

Your eyes are opened to a completely different world when you study abroad. You discover new things and find yourself reflecting about your own society. I can fill this entire paper with my experience abroad, but instead of boring you or making someone late to their class,I will just summarize by saying that studying abroad is a unique and life-changing experience. Bon courage!

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